FIRST EVER CARICOM INTER-TRIBAL GAMES 2012 SUCCESSFULLY HELD IN GUYANA!
A mere 4 weeks ago Damon Gerard Corrie had an idea, the kind of idea that consumed his thoughts and denied him sleep that night; inspired by the 2012 London Olympics in which for the first time ever a member of his Lokono-Arawak tribe in Guyana (a young man by the name of Raul Lall in this case) was a competitor in ANY Olympic Games EVER!
In Damon’s own words: “I wanted to ride on the wave of sporting enthusiasm and goodwill that the 2012 London Olympics brought to my tribe and share it with other tribes, and at the same time bring tangible benefits (medals & prize money) to Amerindian athletes who competed in my games which would ALSO be the first CARICOM Inter-Tribal Games ever held in history – as a way to give the youth something positive to aspire to instead of the destructive bad habits of illegal drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity – which idle souls with no positive recreational outlet tend to gravitate towards… to the detriment of themselves and wider society in general.”
For those who do not know ‘CARICOM’ stands for the ‘Caribbean Community‘ – which includes all of the Independent former English Colonies including Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, Belize and the former Dutch colony of Suriname.
Not all these countries still have indigenous Amerindian populations however, only Guyana, Belize, Suriname, Trinidad, Saint Vincent and Dominica have known/recognized indigenous Amerindian populations.
Mr. Corrie had invited Amerindian athletes from all 5 CARICOM countries outside Guyana with Amerindian populations to participate, but due to short notice and lack of sponsorship to assist them in covering the expense of return air fare to Guyana from their respective countries; only the Kalinago-Carib Tribal Nation (through sponsorship from the Touna Development Agency run by Kalinago ex-Chief Irvine Auguiste) of Dominica was able to send 2 Athletes – at a cost of over US$1,000.00 on LIAT airline (the only airline option available). It was unfortunate that these two Kalinago athletes were forced to pay for 2 additional one-way tickets from Guyana to Dominica after the games as they arrived at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport 20 minutes before their 5.30am Monday October 1st return flight – due to the fact that the vehicle that was hired to transport them out of the interior to Guyana’s International Airport got stuck in a hole in the sand track before it reached the asphalt highway.
The pleadings to the LIAT management at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana by the elder member of the Dominican team Mr. Jacob Fredericks (who has worked with the Ministry of Carib Affairs in Dominica) fell on deaf ears and it was pure luck that Mr. Corrie was able to give the two athletes the US$450.00 required to secure them new one-way tickets to fly home the following morning (October 2nd) on the same time scheduled flight.
It was a disgraceful act of intransigence by a carrier that is quite fond of using the region’s Amerindians as the basis of articles in it’s LIAT Islander magazine to woo visitors into purchasing seats on it’s planes. We shall report on any remedy – or continued intransigence - offered by LIAT in this matter.
Technically, as long as 2 tribes from at least two different CARICOM countries participated it would indeed be rightfully deemed a ‘CARICOM Inter-Tribal Games’ so Damon Corrie got his wish – as 3 Amerindian Tribal Nations from 2 countries (Lokono-Arawak & Makushi tribes from Guyana, and Kalinago-Carib from Dominica) were able to participate in this first and history-making noble effort. “God willing – next year it will be bigger and better!” Corrie added.
A total of 50 Amerindian Athletes participated in 5 events that were held this time – and they were:
Females Dug-Out Canoe Race, Males Archery, Males Swimming, Females Long Distance Run, Males Long Distance Run.
By popular demand (by interested locals & other Tribal Nations) the Games are being split with the remaining events planned to be held later this year in December 2012 – again on Pakuri Lokono-Arawak Territory in Guyana.
As a closing ceremony/event on Sunday 30th September 2012 Mr. Corrie personally volunteered to be the symbolic and ceremonial ‘runner sacrifice’ heralding the end of the first half of the Games. Adorned with blue color temporary body tattoos of traditional Amazonian Indian designs by Kalinago-Carib athlete Tikenti Auguiste (whom Damon personally taught this type of temporary tatoo skill to in August 2012), a loincloth from the Majhi Tribe; and a feather headdress from the Wai-Wai tribe….Damon ran the gauntlet as a moving live target in front of archers backing them as they used their 3-foot long blunt point (the flat head of a 4 inch steel nail) arrows fired from 5-foot bows behind him as he sped away. During his first 25 runs all arrows missed him, but the 26th arrow struck his arm, the 27th arrow struck his back, and the 28th arrow (fired by Kalinago-Carib Tikenti Auguiste of Dominica) struck him at the back of his head with enough force to shatter the arrow shaft.
Corrie says he enjoyed every minute of it as the whole purpose of the ‘runner sacrifice‘ is to embody the key virtues of the Games which are bravery, stamina, the ability to bear physical pain without complaint, and camaraderie.
“I was glad someone finally hit me with a symbolic ‘kill-shot‘ (so named because had it been an actual sharp-point hunting arrow the blow WOULD have been fatal) so I could stop running and begin the feasting and merry-making on wild meat and Cassava beer! I also noted with personal satisfaction that I had dedicated these games to my deceased first daughter Aderi Corrie who lived for only 3 days – September 26th-28th 1994, and I was struck only by the 26th-28th arrows; numbers and ‘co-incidences’ like these mean something to me as a follower of my ancestral Lokono-Arawak spirituality.” Corrie added.
A total of GY$150,000.00 (US$750.00) in prize-money was awarded during this first half of the CARICOM Inter-Tribal Games to the winning athletes who secured Gold 1st place, Silver 2nd place and Bronze 3rd place medals – and these were:
- DUG-OUT CANOE RACE; 1st place + GY$15,000.00 to Penelope Dundas & Penencia Andrews (Lokono-Arawaks, Guyana), 2nd place + GY$10,000.00 to Juanita Simon & Shirling Corrie (Lokono-Arawaks, Guyana), 3rd place + GY$5,000.00 to Jacob (Che) Frederick & Tikenti Auguiste (Kalinago-Caribs, Dominica).
- MALES ARCHERY; 1st place + GY$15,000.00 to Paul Daniels (Kalina-Carib/Lokono-Arawak, Guyana), 2nd place + GY$10,000.00 to Kim Andrews (Lokono-Arawak, Guyana), 3rd place + GY$5,000.00 to Maradonna Simon (Lokono-Arawak, Guyana).
- MALES SWIMMING; 1st place + GY$15,000.00 to Garth Taylor (Lokono-Arawak, Guyana), 2nd place + GY$10,000.00 to Sylvester Paulinho (Makushi, Guyana), 3rd place + GY$5,000.00 to Mengelle Simon (Lokono-Arawak, Guyana).
- FEMALES LONG DISTANCE RUN; 1st place + GY$15,000.00 to Rushell Dundas (Lokono-Arawak, Guyana), 2nd place + GY$10,000.00 to Zoann Shuman (Lokono-Arawak), 3rd place + GY$5,000.00 to Eugenie Jacobs (Lokono-Arawak, Guyana).
- MALES LONG DISTANCE RUN; 1st place + GY$15,000.00 to Sylvester Paulinho (Makushi, Guyana), 2nd place + GY$10,000.00 to Garth Taylor (Lokono-Arawak, Guyana), 3rd place + GY$5,000.00 to Nicholas Clenkian (Lokono-Arawak, Guyana).
Mr. Corrie was quick to add that additionally – a GY$5,000.00 cash prize for being the youngest finisher in the Males Long Distance Run was given to 8 year-old Ishab Kattow (Lokono-Arawak, Guyana) by Dr. George Norton (Guyana’s most famous Amerindian Parliamentarian, Ophthalmologist, and head of the Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples/GOIP).
It is worth noting that Dr. Norton even voluntarily entered the Males Swimming race to encourage some hesitant participants who thought the course was difficult.